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Best Dance Clubs in Chicago

You should be dancing at Chicago's best clubs


 

House music was born in Chicago when a new club called The Warehouse emerged from the near Westside in 1977. The Warehouse is one for the Chicago entertainment history books but the beats are pounding at a number of dance clubs around town. Chicago nightlife churns and cooks seven nights a week if you know where to go and sometimes it’s in the basement like The Rec Room and The Underground or a space housed on two levels of the historic Flat Iron Building - Debonair Social Club.

Smart Bar in Wrigleyville has been a destination for dance-partiers since 1982 and still holds its own with its au courant DJs while Lakeview’s Berlin harkens back to Belmont Ave’s longtime punk scene and simultaneously connects to the future. You may encounter drag queens, exotic dancers, and other controversial icons on the dance floor at this extremely friendly club.

The Underground is one of Chicago’s favorite places for dancing, drinking and people watching. It's fun to dress to impress at this club in River North where you’ll move to beats dropped by a roster of internationally-known DJ’s. Everything old is new again as Disco which recreates the age of Studio 54, Le Freak and boogie nights. If you want to feel as though you're in Vegas, don your stilettos and head to TAO Chicago, the midwest outpost of the Las Vegas and NYC nightclubs. You should be dancing, yeah! 


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Tourists won't have to venture very far from their hotel when choosing the River North nightclub located on the second floor of a multi-level dining and drinking establishment. The math reveals two full bars, 13 tables and innumerable floating light fixtures. Count on local DJs, themed parties and bottle service resulting in a dance party hotspot. Local and visiting celebrities are wont to show up such as surprise musical performances from Demi Lovato, Ludacris, Travis Scott, Louis and DJ Flosstradamus, to Win + Woo and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Consider over-the-top bottle service with unexpected presentations, such as a Belvedere Bear - a Magnum of Belvedere served in a silver bear and two bottles of Veuve Cliquot. The Roof offers great views of the city, lounge-style seating and music spun by local and guest DJs. Feast at Parlay at Joy on the first floor for dinner, Happy Hour and Sunday brunch.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: If River North is your jam, Joy District offers everything you could want in a dance club from over-the-top bottle service to surprise performances.

Jacky's expert tip: Ask about the "Saber Experience" where Joy staff sabers a glowing bottle of champagne at the table.

Read more about Joy District →




There's not a lick of mystery in the name: the 7,500-foot space aims to delight your inner child with adult beverages served in grown-up juice boxes. The lively nightspot at the tip of the River North's nightlife scene dazzles with a neon-filled bar and a nightclub for music, dancing and over-the-top bottle service. Weekend nights are a one-stop-shop for drinks, food and dancing but there are many birthday and bachelorette parties, too. Sundays feature house music spun by popular DJs. The dance club space accommodates up 250 people. Liqrbox is open until 5 am and serves food until 3 am so order grilled cheese, mac 'n' cheese and even a PB & J. "LIQR Boxes" are reminiscent of what mom stuffed into your lunchbox - except spiked with tequila, rum and vodka. But the full bar means you can have whatever you'd like since you're "adulting" these days.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: You can experience your second childhood through nostalgic food and drink and hit the dance floor showing off your grown-up moves.

Jacky's expert tip: While dancing, gaze up at the Mezzanine level and you may spot a celeb like Chance the Rapper who often frequents the club.

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If going back to the 1970s is too rich for your Millennial blood and your idea of nostalgia is Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, and Britney Spears, The Rec Room is your sweet spot for drinking and dancing under a disco ball. The basement setting means things can get a little sweaty, but the Mason jarred and canned drinks are icy, not terribly overpriced for River North and there's plenty of cushy seating to take a breather. Riffing on the memories of spending time in your bestie's basement hang out, Friday and Saturday beginning at midnight, you're invited to "raid the fridge," a complimentary rotating selection of eats like fried chicken, pizza and frozen candy bars. Enter through Henry's and get ready to dance until you're singing, "Bye, Bye, Bye" NSYNC-ers.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: The weekend dance party takes place in what feels like your high school pal's basement, with more books and better adult beverages.

Jacky's expert tip: Expect to wait, but there are drinks and board games to play while you do and once in, you'll be glad the crowd size is controlled.

Read more about The Rec Room →


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The Underground nightclub takes its tenor of exclusivity seriously with an unmarked basement level entrance. Those who live for a see-and-be-seen atmosphere feel right at home here. Bottle service and celebrity sightings are de rigueur after accessing the cavernous bomb shelter entryway where DJs spin until the sun comes up and candlelit ammunition crates serve as tables to hold your top-shelf cocktails. The club hosts nationally-recognized artists during Lollapalooza afterparties, too, including the likes of Ludacris, Wale, The Cool Kids and others. Party with a mix of Chicago-based and resident DJs and nationally-recognized musical performers. This club was named one of "the hottest nightclubs" by Entertainment Weekly.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: The Underground attracts a who's-who of Chicago notables, celebrities, international DJs, and live acts including Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Kanye West and Robin Thicke.

Jacky's expert tip: The Underground enforces a strict dress code. Dress to impress in either casual cocktail attire or your trendiest threads.

Read more about The Underground Chicago →




Smart Bar, below The Metro, is a basement dance club that lacks pretension and welcomes all. Located in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood (two blocks north of Wrigley Field), Smart Bar doesn't care a fig about designer outfits just dancing and music. Regulars rave about the sound system, large dance space, lighting and the fact that the place has deep house history. Diverse bookings keep the space popular with fans of all musical genres as various DJs and performance artists joyfully rock the crowd. Unlike other night clubs in town, areas to sit down and take a load off aren't designated as VIP so everyone enjoys a breather.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: DJs spin a mix of techno, rave, funk, house, juke and industrial dance music for the alternative mix of clientele.

Jacky's expert tip: Be aware that the bathrooms are gender-neutral and you may want to tote ear protection, it's that loud.

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5
Lincoln Park


PRYSM is home to some of the best DJ and EDM live performances in Chicago every week. Table service packages offer select seating in the center of the club's first floor or on the second floor overlooking the DJ booth and throbbing crowd from above. Artist performances such as TIESTO to G-EAZY keep dancers moving to familiar and brand new sounds and rhythms. Industry night takes place on Mondays in PRYSM and the place pulsates Friday and Saturday nights. A Champagne lounge, No.9, opened in April 2018 on the second level and celeb sightings include Nick Jonas and Jeremy Piven. Wiz Khalifa, Nelly and Loud Luxury have performed. Check out No. 9 on Wednesday - Saturday nights.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: PRYSM Nightclub features state-of-the-art sound system, video screens and intelligent lighting plus three full bars on two levels.

Jacky's expert tip: PRYSM was recently named the 44th best club in the world by Nightlife International.

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Everything old is new again thus the recreating of the age of Studio 54, Le Freak and boogie nights. Derived from gay underground New York clubs, Disco was a white-hot trend fueled by amyl nitrate, flickering strobe lights and unrelenting rhythm. Disco Chicago hustles its way to be a chic, late-night club with plenty of room to dance the night away while drinking vintage champagne, craft cocktails or bottle service. Expect to feel as though you're in a nightlife sanctuary with pulsating 1970s Funk, Soul, Latin, Pop and House as a soundtrack. Those in-the-know are impressed with high-profile DJ lineups and residencies as well as musical talent such as original Studio 54 DJs and Chicago house music legends, among many others.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Disco features a wall-to-wall LED dance floor, custom retro wall coverings, furry sofas, ornate mirrored ceilings, tropical plants and Lucite furnishings.

Jacky's expert tip: Located on the third floor above Celeste, Disco is open Thursday-Friday 10 pm to 4 am and Saturday 10 pm to 5 am.

Read more about Disco →


3
Downtown


If you want to feel as though you're in Vegas, don your stilettos and head to TAO Chicago, the midwest outpost of the Las Vegas and NYC nightclubs. Upstairs from the massive Pan Asian restaurant, the other half of the TAO Chicago experience is a 7,000-square-foot nightclub that you enter through 100-year-old Chinese doors then down a lantern-lit exterior alley. Sip cocktails (but know that bathroom lines can feel interminable), order bottle service and peruse the multi-sensory scene in the intimate front nightclub space or the expansive rear room set underneath a 10-foot bell and sparkly disco ball. The two nightclubs are separated by an operable wall that transforms into a one-room venue. Expect some top-tier artists and DJs.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: If BIG is your jam, you'll find it at the 34,000 square-foot venue TAO: sounds, sights, dance floor and crowds.

Jacky's expert tip: Do yourself a favor and get there before 11 pm on weekends or entry is iffy.

Read more about TAO Chicago →




Home of Wicker Park's longest-running dance party, Debonair Social Club is a multi-media space housed on two levels of the historic Flat Iron Building. There are DJ booths and drinks on each floor; a stage and dance floor upstairs; and a sound system dance floor in the basement lounge. Touting itself as a center of "music, food, art, romance and dancing," Debonair hosts events from Perry Farrell's pre-lease Lollapalooza parties to burlesque. Neo Thursdays bring New Wave tunes in an 80's video dance party: Fridays, on the main floor, it's Top 40, Hip-Hop, House and Trap sounds; both floors rock on Saturdays; and it's a pizza/dance party every Sunday. Check social media to learn about live bands (past performers include Alkaline Trio, Disturbed and Urge Overkill). DSC's DJ roster includes names like Thom Yorke; Diplo; The XX; The Hives; The Boxer Rebellion; The Donnas; and The Cool Kids.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: With two floors of music and dancing and reasonable cover charges, DSC is an alternative to some of the faux swank clubs in River North.

Jacky's expert tip: Count on every kind of cuisine near the club, from Furious Spoon's ramen to Southern dishes at Dove's Luncheonette, for pre-dancing fuel.

Read more about Debonair Social Club →


1
Lake View


Named so because the original owner loved the cabaret sparkle of Berlin during the 1930s Weimar Republic, Berlin has been a dancing planet of glitter and glee in 1983. Gay, straight, trans or bi (heck, you can even bring mom or dad) all are equally welcome at Berlin. Weekends are packed but you can honestly join a party nearly every night of the week here with music video dance parties, drag shows, stand-up comics and theme nights like New Wave 80's Night and Cosmix Fridays when you'll witness a multimedia melange of electro, house, industrial, techno, trip-hop and other genres. Drink specials are very affordable. There are two bars, a dance floor, wild decor and a generally sunny attitude. Bring an open mind and heart to the Lakeview club just around the corner from Halsted Street and Chicago's Boystown neighborhood.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Berlin has been the epitome of fun and dancing since 1983.

Jacky's expert tip: Don't judge a book by its cover or a dance club by its facade. Cover is $5-10 depending on the night.

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Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky

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